Seems to be the most mentioned topic in any conversation for new parents. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have heard “How is the baby sleeping? How are you sleeping?”. It is understandable I suppose since generally new parents forget what sleep really is and appear to look like zombies for the first few, well I will have to get back to you on how long this lasts.
I have now read five books, more blogs and forums than you can shake a stick at and discovered there are more methods to get your baby to sleep than Carter has liver pills! It is mind blowing and as a new parent can be overwhelming. You are exhausted and you are looking for any answer that may help you get your lil one to sleep longer than an hour at a time! We are currently attempting to sleep train and I have yet to find any that I like completely. (If you have found a method that works for you, congrats. This post is not to downplay anyone’s experiences or opinions)
I finally called my Nana, mother of six, and asked her how she sleep trained. At first she was like, sleep trained, what is that? I explained to her the books, blogs etc. that I had attempted to get advice from and she laughed. Said first of all we didn’t have books, we had instincts and mama’s to get advice from. Second, you don’t train a baby to sleep. Babies are designed to do things for a reason and if you go tampering with that you can create serious problems. I asked her how she handled sleep then and she explained she fed, she rocked if needed, put them on their belly, patted their bottom and told them good night. They took one long nap in the middle of the day and slept through the night. When they were little of course there was a one or two am feeding but they went right back to sleep once fed.
Her logic seemed way to simple to me! I mean aren’t you supposed to feed, play then put to sleep every three hours! She again laughed and said yes there is routine but not to the point you are housebound or staring at the clock. All six of her children were unique. Some slept great for long periods of time others were up every two hours to eat. She did say she kept catnip tea in the house at all times. It helps with gas, colic and fussiness. (I am not a doctor and have not researched this so please ask your doctor if you decide to try)
My lil one is currently doing a mix of all of the books I have read minus cry it out. I just can’t! I am a firm believer that God made babies to cry when they need something. It is their survival mechanism and I as his mama need to respond. I have heard some say well they cry all of the time! That is when you have to ask yourself why? If breastfed did you eat something that he/she is having a hard time with? Is their feed times sufficient and satiating their hunger? Did something change environmentally? I was getting six hour stretches from lil man when he was in his bassinet but since going to his crib fulltime I am back to two to three hours before wanting to be fed again. The list goes on and while I get it some babies, like my niece did, just cry and cry a lot. I believe that is when help is truly needed and there are a ton of resources out there with your pediatrician being the first I would go to. Mine only cries when he is hungry, gassy or overly tired. When he was a few weeks old we had colic and reflux issues. I fortunately found the source of his fussiness and handled the best we could.
I have also learned that no amount of advice is going to “fix” your child’s sleep problem. I read a great piece today that said ”But the truth is, babies don’t need to be taught how to sleep, just as they don’t need to be taught how to breathe or walk or talk.” (RaisedGood.com fantastic read!) For the first time I read something that made complete and total sense! All children are unique and will have different sleep habits. We as parents need to stop expecting our babies to sleep like adults. It is not realistic and will only bring on more frustration to an already tough situation. I have decided to try my Nana’s way for a few weeks and will let you know how it goes. Would love for everyone to share their thoughts and experiences. I know there are a ton of parent’s out there searching for answers and maybe you can be the one that helps!